Nick Curly has now been defining the sound of the underground for ten whole years. The varied and vital artist has established a number of labels in that time, including the era-defining Cecille Records. We sat down with Nick to discuss techno, Ibiza and everything in between. Take a look below.
By now, Curly has a refined signature sound that keeps people dancing all over the world. His productions continue to come on esteemed labels like Truesoul, Drumcode and Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep in Sound and he remains an in-demand remixer – recent work taking in Pan Pot’s Second State and for the legendary duo Stephane K and John Creamer, with an appearance on 'Saved' for hot newcomer Emanuel Satie back in spring.
His DJ schedule takes in hundreds of gigs each year, all over the world, with year on year growth showing no signs of slowing down. 2016 was a superb year, yet 2017 already includes confirmed appearances at Heart Miami, Ministry of Sound, TimeWarp Mannheim, Crobar Buenos Aires, Warung Beach Club and festival plays at Hideout, Sonus, Eastern Electrics, and many more. This is Nick Curly's interview with The Idle Man.
Briefly, tell us how did you get into the world of DJing?
It all started off with an old turntable that my parents gave me aged 14. I had no records and it was just sat there. I decided to go out and purchase my first record with some pocket money and next thing I knew I had become addicted to trawling through endless crates of music in the local record stores.
Once I got my first 50 records I thought it was time to start seeing what I could do with them. This lead to the acquisition of a 2nd turntable and a mixer. A little bit after my friends and I started sneaking into a club called Vibration, going most weekends and this one weekend I ended up at an after party with the owner of the club.
I ended up putting on one of my mix tapes and next thing I know I had my first club gig all culminating with me becoming the resident DJ.
What was it like producing in Mannheim? Were there many other creative people around you trying to make music?
Mannheim is actually famous in Germany for having the “Pop Academy,” which is basically a university where you can study song writing and production. I think in the UK you have the BRIT School? But as a result, there is a lot of creative music heads in the city and everyone seems to some how be involved in music because of this. I never went to the college but a lot of people I know did and we sometimes shared ideas!
Gorge, and I (my label partner at 8Bit) rented a big studio near the Pop Academy for our label and all of our friends started moving in and using the space. Ray Okpara, Johnny D, Steffen Deux and even Frederico Mollinari from Oslo Records were all working out of there and it was a great creative hub for a long time.
Gorge and I are still in that same studio but now we are surrounded by a lot of artists that are into different genres of music and not just electronic music. It is quite inspiring to see how they work and take their influences from different things. I even produced my studio album together with Sebastian Flach who I met in there a few years back.
When you first started playing at clubs in your hometown of Mannheim, did you think you’d ever becoming as hugely popular as you are today?
I think like anything my success is down to a combination of factors but when I started my label Cecille Records, there was a huge hype that generated a lot of interest in myself. People were talking about the “Mannheim Sound” and it landed my first international bookings. It all just started with that first record player though and there was no thought of turning it into a full-time job. It all just kind of happened.
Who were your main influences that made you want to start producing your own music?
I would say Gorge was a major influence in me starting producing my own music. He was already producing wicked trance and progressive tracks. He had a lot of experience with all the hardware and he was the one that started pushing me to produce and help me make my ideas into reality. That is actually why we started 8Bit in order to create a platform to release our music.
You’ve been producing House/Techno for over 10 years, would you say that the scene has changed in that time and if so how?
Yes of course. Music is like fashion it's very fluid. There are always trends and crossovers with people creating new sounds or reviving previous trends with their own take. Last year there was a big techno hype but I get the impression that stuff is getting more progressive at the moment. It’s a cyclical process in my opinion and very normal. I like to think that I can play and produce across multiple genres though so it suits me.
Do you have a favourite track of your own and why?
One of my favourite tracks is "Rack and Run". It has always had a great reaction in clubs and I think people love the simple groove and the atmosphere it can generate. Fingers crossed I can do another one like this soon.
When did you feel that you were starting to get a name for yourself and your music?
Definitely a couple of months after we launched Cecille Records I think. We started getting lots of requests for interviews and then the international bookings started coming and it's all been non-stop from there.
I understand you’ve got a remix of Josh Butler’s track “Can’t Deny” coming out soon, tell us about that?
That’s true, I just finished the remix with the original coming from Josh Butler and Kerri Chandler. I got played the original and instantly got an idea for the direction I wanted to take it. The fact that Josh is one of the top upcoming producers in the UK and Kerri is a true legend it was pretty easy to say yes to join the project.
Have you got any other big plans for the summer?
The summer is already well under way for me. August is always the busiest month and I am actually off to Sonus Festival tomorrow where I have two sets. I am playing 11 times in 14 days so it's getting pretty hectic but I can't complain! Before this, I have had lots of Ibiza dates at DC-10, Resistance, Pacha and HYTE as well as trips to Sonar and Fabric with my event ‘Trust’. My diary is almost full now for 2017 so I am just trying to work out if there is time for a holiday in between a US tour and Australian tour and the ‘Nick Curly presents Trust’ summer tour.
What can we expect from you music wise this year, any exciting EPs or collaborations coming up we should know about?
New 8Bit EP is imminent with a belter called ‘Rebound’ that has a Santé Remix plus some more unreleased stuff. There are also 2 new tracks which might go in a slightly different direction to what people are used to but these are hush hush at the moment. But yes I am trying for as much studio time as I can fit into my diary.
What’s one track that you’re constantly playing in your sets at the moment?
I actually forgot about this track for a while and it popped up on my iPod whilst at the gym and instantly landed back in the record bag. For me, it’s a timeless classic and absolute masterpiece. It's called ‘Hale Bop’ by German techno act ‘Der Dritte Raum’.
Who’s one artist you would absolutely love to work with?
Rosin Murphy, that's an easy choice! For me, she is one of the most talented singers in the scene at the moment and has a great personality.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone looking to start producing and DJing?
Technology has improved so much that production has become more accessible. Everyone can produce and create sounds now that it is very difficult to create an identity. My advice would be to be as experimental as possible create your own sound and your own identity to try and avoid falling in with everyone else. It is very difficult to get noticed these days.
Finally, Ibiza or UK Festivals; which do you prefer playing?
Two different things but I am going to be that guy and say…UK festival by day straight to Ibiza for an evening gig and right through to a villa party after!
With his laidback personality, interesting nature and love of all things music, it is easy to see why Nick Curly has lasted so long in this industry. More than just a producer, Nick is genuinely interested in learning as much about the music as he can about himself making him one of house and techno's gems. We can now understand why he is booked to play all over the world, month after month and year after year.
You can catch Nick at The Social Festival in Kent this September alongside the likes of Loco Dice, Carl Cox, The Martinez Brothers and more. Head over to The Social Festival's website and check out the rest of the line-up and all other vital information.